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    What is nail caviar?

    Zoe Diana Draelos, MDNail caviar is a popular trend amongst teenagers.  It utilizes tiny colored plastic spheres that resemble fish eggs or caviar in size.  The plastic spheres come in a variety colors or even mixed colors.  In order to achieve caviar nails, the nail is first painted with a clear or colored nail polish.  While the nail polish is still wet, the nail is pressed into a pot containing the plastic spheres.  The wet nail polish dries binding the numerous spheres to the nail.  After drying, a clear top coat nail polish is applied over the spheres to seal the surface and further increase bonding to the nail.  The spheres and nail polish will chip over time and must be removed with acetone soaking of the nails.

    There are no safety issues associated with the plastic spheres on the nail plate, however there is concern overall about the safety of tiny plastic spheres in water sources.  Apparently, the tiny spheres are not removed by water filtration and are increasing in concentration in the world’s water supplies.  The main source of the plastic spheres is not caviar nail polish, but the tiny spheres used in body cleansing products to induce mild skin exfoliation.  Once in the water sources, the tiny spheres soak up environmental pollutants, such as pesticides, and are eaten by fish, which then become contaminated.  Eventually, humans may ingest the fish with exposure to high pesticide levels.

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    Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D.
    Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a consulting professor of dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. She is investigator, ...


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